All good pet parents know that young puppies and kittens need the proper series of pet vaccines to start them off on a healthy path. But what about adult pets? What pet vaccines are legally required? Which are merely recommended, and how often? Let's start with the basics: 1. What does a vaccine do?
A vaccine prepares your pet's immune system to fight off a particular disease should he ever contract it. They do so by introducing antigens into your pet's blood, which look to the immune system like the disease-causing organism, but don't actually cause disease. When the vaccine is introduced to the body, the immune system learns and remembers how to fight that disease for a period of time.
Puppies and kittens need four rounds of shots to protect their growing bodies. Check with your vet about a vaccination schedule. 2. What types of vaccines are available?
Pet vaccines span a wide variety, from rabies to rattlesnake venom. The most common vaccines, or "Core" vaccines, for dogs include:
- canine parvovirus
- canine disterper virus
- canine adenovirus
- and rabies.
Feline core vaccines are:
- herpesvirus 1
- feline calicivirus
- feline panleukopenia virus
- and rabies shots.
Detailed information on each of these vaccines can be found on the UC Davis Veterinary Medicine website
. 3. What vaccinations are legally required in Austin?
Pet parents are legally required to vaccinate for Rabies at 12 weeks of age for dogs and cats and again at one year old. The Rabies vaccination must be performed by a licensed vet. Pets must receive a Rabies "booster" vaccine every one to three years, depending on the brand used. Check with your vet if you're unsure if you're up to date. While not required by law, proof of current bordatella and DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvo and Parainfluenza) vaccines are required by many private dog parks and pet boarding facilities.
Love the dog park? Make sure to protect your pup with non-core vaccines to prevent nasty diseases like kennel cough. 4. How often should I have my pet immunized?
Puppies and kittens should be given their first round of core shots at 6-9 weeks of age, followed by a series of vaccines every 3-4 weeks until the young pet is 18 weeks old. Once your pet is an adult, consult with your vet on when and how often he should receive booster shots (but don't forget that legally-required Rabies shot every one to three years). 5. Can I over-vaccinate my pet?
Some in the holistic pet industry have raised concern that annual vaccinations may be too frequent. While there is conflicting information on whether annual vaccinations are detrimental to pets, there is evidence to suggest that the immunities established by a pet's initial core vaccines may remain strong for more than a year, making an annual booster unnecessary. Ultimately, the decision lies with you, the pet parent. If you prefer to be diligent about staying up on annual vaccines and your dog is not prone to side effects, you should feel confident in that decision. If you wish to limit your dog's exposure to vaccines, we recommend a Titer test: Titer tests measure of the concentration of antibodies in your pet's blood, and can help you and your vet better understand the strength of your pet's immunity to common diseases.
Interested in a Titer test? Reach out to Judi Keller, DVM with Sunflower Holistic Vet Care. Judi's mobile vet clinic offers Titer tests at a great value.
VIP Pet Care offers regular clinics at many Tomlinson's locations! 6. What if I don't have time in my work week to schedule a vet appointment?
Keeping your pet up-to-date with multiple vaccines may seem arduous, but it’s worth it in the long run. Not only are you protecting your four-legged family member from potentially fatal diseases, but the occasional cost of these preventative shots is more affordable than it would be to treat an infectious disease. Can't fit a vet appointment in your schedule?
VIP Pet Care facilitates regular weekend clinics at several Tomlinson's locations--no appointment necessary.
(Plus, get $10 off Vaccine Packages through Oct. 3!)
Be sure to spread the word with fellow pet parents! Feel free to share on Facebook
. Sources: ASPCA, UC Davis Veterinary Medicine, Texas Department of State Health Services